Mother’s Day, More Border Security, Stopping ESG, Honoring WWII Veterans, & More

May 14, 2023

I want to wish all of our Moms a wonderful Mother’s Day and acknowledge the very special role they have in our lives. I particularly want to share how blessed I am for my wife, Terry, and the amazing job she did in raising our six children and serving as a role model for our five daughters. I am blessed with a wonderful stepmother, Barbara, who helped fill the void after my mother passed. My mother, Joyce King, was very ill most of her adult life and passed away many years ago. As we think of the moms in our lives – whether living or their memory – this is a great day to say thank you! Happy Mother’s Day!

Senate Passes My Bill to Establish First in Nation Terrorist Registry

One of the bills that I authored and passed last week by the Senate establishes a first in the nation Terrorist Offender Registry.    

First, some background. Texas has not yet taken action to enact state criminal statutes directed at terrorism. This has resulted in law enforcement and prosecutors lacking the necessary tools to pursue investigations, obtain convictions, and impose proportionate punishments against terrorist actors. 

SB 1518 provides those tools by creating a new category for terroristic offenses. The new state terrorism offenses will carry appropriate penalties against terrorists who knowingly act or provide material support to terrorist organizations. Commission of an offense carries a mandatory enhancement of one penalty level and a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for felonies and 180 days for misdemeanors.

Finally, SB 1518 identifies and tracks those who have proven to be threats to public and national safety. Currently, if someone is released from prison after serving time for a terrorist-related crime, we have no idea where those people are if they come to our state. Therefore, following completion of their prison sentence for the commission of a reportable offense, this bill requires convicted terrorists to register on the Terrorist Offender Registry if they reside in or plan to move to the State of Texas.  This would operate similarly to our existing state sex offender registration statute, but there are some differences; for example, information on this new registry is accessible only by law enforcement.  

Border Security Remains in Focus: Texas Senate Takes Action

Earlier this week I expressed my concern about the unfolding crisis at the border after Title 42 expired at midnight on Thursday. While the full consequences and effects are yet to be fully known, the ensuing border chaos in the first few days demonstrates that – once again – the federal government under President Joe Biden is unwilling and incapable of securing our southern border. These developments also underscore why it is critical for Texas to take the leadership in this mission and provide the resources to get it done. As the session nears an end, I thought this would be an appropriate time to recap bills passed so far by the Texas Senate that have an impact on border security. Some of these bills are still in process and passage is not assured, but these have been passed by the Senate:

HB 1 (our state budget): provides $4.6 billion to maintain current border security operations with a pay raise for border law enforcement
SB 22:  funding rural law enforcement
SB 423: authorizes Texas military forces to use drones for border security and other operations
SB 602: confers state felony arrest authority to US Border Patrol agents
SB 1248: strengthens smuggling laws to include state parks
SB 1403: creates the Border Security Compact
SB 1427: provides increased penalties for smuggling
SB 1484: a border operations training program
SB 1709:  my legislation strengthens organized crime and sedition laws
SB 1884: sanctioning foreign nationals
SB 1900: adds foreign terrorist organizations to organized crime under state law
SB 2424:  gives the state authority to enforce our border

Authoring Legislation to Target ESG Policies Impacting the Cost of Insurance

We’ve all seen the increasingly liberal, “woke” agenda of some corporations. Instead of focusing on what is best for customers and shareholders, many are intent on bowing to the small but vocal activists who are pushing the so-called ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) model. 

This trend has even impacted the insurance industry. That’s why I authored SB 833, which prohibits any insurance company doing business in Texas from using environmental, social, or governance factors as a basis for determining insurance rates. SB 833 will ensure that only mathematically valid factors are considered when determining rates, not race, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and certainly not an ESG rating.

An example of this would be if a company had a truck fleet that’s all electric and another company had a truck fleet that is diesel, the EV fleet could not get a different, lower premium that has nothing to do with causality or risk factors. 

This Texas bill, and our aggressive efforts to rein in ESG, have received national notice. Recently TIME magazine wrote: “Over the past year, the backlash against so-called ESG investing has swept through red states as legislatures enacted laws punishing investment firms that use environmental, social, and governance metrics in their decision making. As the saying goes, it’s bigger in Texas.”

Senate Passes Additional Legislation to Ban COVID Mandates

This week the Senate passed SB 1024, which bans government entities from mandating masks, vaccines, and from adding COVID-19 vaccines to school immunization schedules. It also prohibits discrimination against unvaccinated people by labor organizations.

Honoring the TCCRI Student Scholars of the 2023 Legislative Session

As I’ve shared before, I serve as Chairman of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI). Every legislative session since 2009, the TCCRI Clements Legislative Study Program provides conservative college students the opportunity to learn about public policy development up close and firsthand as interns at the Texas Capitol. The program is the largest of its kind in Texas for conservative college students.

Each Texas legislative session, TCCRI places scholars in the office of a state legislator who is a member of the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC), the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature; this provides a unique learning environment for students interested in public service and public policy. Through this program, TCCRI helps ensure that its founding principles – Limited Government, Individual Liberty, Free Enterprise, and Traditional Values – are instilled in the next generation of conservative leaders. 

Last week, we honored this year’s participants including our SD 10 intern, Jackie Pillow of Fort Worth.  A graduate from Aledo ISD, she is a second-year UT student majoring in Canfield Business Honors and Finance, with a minor in Law, Justice, and Society.

Last week we honored the students who participated in the TCCRI Clements Legislative Study Program, which provides conservative college students the opportunity to learn firsthand about the public policy process. 

Last Thursday, we were joined by 16 World War II veterans, ranging in age from 95 to 102. This was an amazing opportunity to see these living Texans from the “Greatest Generation”.  It was a particular honor for me to meet SD 10 constituent Arnold Pitchford from Millsap. Mr. Pitchford served in the United States Army from April 1945 through December 1946. He was born on Tin Top Road in Weatherford, resides on the family farm on Pitchford Lane and has multiple generations of family living in Parker County. Thank you for your service, Sir!

Honoring Texas WW II Veterans of the “Greatest Generation”

Last week, Thursday’s observance of World War II Veterans Capitol Day provided us an opportunity to honor brave members of the Greatest Generation for their selfless service. These patriots helped preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

In December 1941, the United States was drawn into the most devastating and consequential conflict in human history. At that time, although Texas had only five percent of the nation’s population, we provided seven percent of armed forces personnel. By the end of the war, 750,000 Texans, including 12,000 women, had contributed to victory over enemy forces; the majority of these service members were in the U.S. Army and the Army Air Force, but nearly a quarter served in other branches; over 22,000 Texans made the ultimate sacrifice, a third of this number in the Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard. 

According to the National World War II Museum, as of 2022, 8,200 World War II veterans were living in Texas, the fifth-highest number of all states in the U.S. It was a privilege to meet some of these great men, shake their hand, and let them know how much we honor them.